Emma - Volume 3 (Chapter 6, page 3 of 12)


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Chapter 6

"Oh! now you are looking very sly. But consider--you need not be afraid of delegating power to _me_. I am no young lady on her preferment. Married women, you know, may be safely authorised. It is my party. Leave it all to me. I will invite your guests."

"No,"--he calmly replied,--"there is but one married woman in the world whom I can ever allow to invite what guests she pleases to Donwell, and that one is--"

"--Mrs. Weston, I suppose," interrupted Mrs. Elton, rather mortified.

"No--Mrs. Knightley;--and till she is in being, I will manage such matters myself."

"Ah! you are an odd creature!" she cried, satisfied to have no one preferred to herself.--"You are a humourist, and may say what you like.

Quite a humourist. Well, I shall bring Jane with me--Jane and her aunt.--The rest I leave to you. I have no objections at all to meeting the Hartfield family. Don't scruple. I know you are attached to them."

"You certainly will meet them if I can prevail; and I shall call on Miss Bates in my way home."

"That's quite unnecessary; I see Jane every day:--but as you like. It is to be a morning scheme, you know, Knightley; quite a simple thing.

I shall wear a large bonnet, and bring one of my little baskets hanging on my arm. Here,--probably this basket with pink ribbon. Nothing can be more simple, you see. And Jane will have such another. There is to be no form or parade--a sort of gipsy party. We are to walk about your gardens, and gather the strawberries ourselves, and sit under trees;--and whatever else you may like to provide, it is to be all out of doors--a table spread in the shade, you know. Every thing as natural and simple as possible. Is not that your idea?"

"Not quite. My idea of the simple and the natural will be to have the table spread in the dining-room. The nature and the simplicity of gentlemen and ladies, with their servants and furniture, I think is best observed by meals within doors. When you are tired of eating strawberries in the garden, there shall be cold meat in the house."

"Well--as you please; only don't have a great set out. And, by the bye, can I or my housekeeper be of any use to you with our opinion?-Pray be sincere, Knightley. If you wish me to talk to Mrs. Hodges, or to inspect anything--"

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